The 344th community-owned village shop in the UK has opened after a two-year campaign by dedicated volunteers in the village of High Bickington in Devon.

The shop is entirely led by volunteers and offers residents locally-produced goods, a range of food and drink and household items, as well as a seating area for people to meet, socialise, and enjoy a slice of homemade cake.

The project has been driven by a small group of people living in the area who recognised the increasing need for a local shop within the village. They have been receiving support from Plunkett Foundation throughout this time and have registered as a community benefit society.

Dr David Halpin, Chairman of the management committee, said: “The last village shop in High Bickington closed 12 years ago and as the community has grown, so has the need for there to be a local shop to provide basic essentials for people who may not have regular access to the supermarkets in our surrounding towns of Barnstaple, Torrington and South Molton.

“It will be a meeting place, a communication centre and an important lynchpin of village life. We hope that the shop will be much more than just a convenience store but also a meeting place for neighbours and friends to have a drink and a chat.

“It should add to our village in a way that enriches the lives of the volunteers and customers and will help people stay in High Bickington by reducing isolation as well as making food available locally and more conveniently.

“Much of the appeal of our wonderful village rests on its sense of community and it is the reason that so many people have moved here and remain here, so the presence of a shop does, we feel, greatly enhance that community spirit.”

High Bickington becomes the 344th community shop to open in the UK, and the 32nd to open in Devon.

James Alcock, Head of Frontline for Plunkett Foundation, said: “In a climate that sees around 400 commercial village shops close each year, community-owned shops not only represent a better form of business, they directly respond to some of the key challenges facing rural communities today, they have a positive impact on the local economy, and often become the hub of their local area. We’re delighted to see High Bickington open and trading and wish them every success for the future.”

Find out more about High Bickington Community Shop here:

For more information about community shops, and how Plunkett can help you set one up in your area, click here. 

Image courtesy of the North Devon Gazette.